A day after Pankaja Munde wrote on Facebook seeming to hint she was unhappy in the BJP and dropped her party affiliation from her Twitter bio, she said she was anguished by “media speculation” about her social media posts, and declared that “defection is not in my blood”.
“I am not leaving the BJP,” she told media outside her official residence. She had also posted a picture of a lotus on her FB page.
Earlier in the day, senior party leader and former minister Vinod Tawde, who held a meeting with his apparently sulking colleague Tuesday, also asserted she was not going to leave the party. “Pankaja (Munde) is not going to leave the BJP. She is terribly upset with the speculations reported about her quitting the party. She has also conveyed that the FB post was being blown out of proportion and misunderstood,” Tawde said.
Tawde, who himself was sidelined ahead of the election, said his visit was a “courtesy call”. Their meeting lasted more than 90 minutes at her official bungalow Royal Stone at Peddar Road in Mumbai. She will move out of the bungalow shortly as it has been allocated to senior Shiv Sena cabinet minister Eknath Shinde.
State BJP leader Chandrakant Patil said Tawde had informed him before his meeting with Munde. Munde, whose FB post indicated that she was rethinking her future with the BJP, had said she would make an announcement at a public function on December 12, an annual event on her father Gopinath Munde’s birth anniversary.
“I need some time with myself. What to do next? What path should I follow now? What can I give my people? What is my strength? What do people expect of me? I will think about all this, and I will address all these questions before the people at the December 12 public rally,” she said in the FB post.
Munde is the second leader in the BJP to have expressed unhappiness with the party. Earlier Eknath Khadse had accused party insiders of conspiring to defeat his daughter, who was a BJP candidate in the Assembly election.
“The anger and disappointment amongst the leaders who were denied ticket or those who lost elections will be clinically analysed. All those deserving a role in party or legislature will be reconsidered. But any attempt to blackmail the party will not work under the leadership of Home minister Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” a senior party functionary said.
The party is now seeking to convey that Munde, who lost the assembly elections to her estranged cousin, the NCP’s Dhananjay Munde, from Parli constituency in Beed district in Marathwada, would be given a substantive role in the organisation. There is talk of accommodating her in the state legislative council (MLC). But party leaders ruled out her being appointed as leader of the opposition in the council.
“Pankaja got everything on a platter in the party. As a first term MLA she was inducted in the core committee, which is the highest policy making body of party,” a senior general secretary said.
State BJP president Chandrakant Patil, who is likely to continue to lead the organisation, said: “Every individual’s work will be valued.”